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Monday, February 18, 2013

Function at RAJ BHAVAN KARNATAKA - Presenting a copy of my KGF Book

These are few pictures of the Function held at the Raj Bhavan Karnataka onWorld Anglo-Indian Day 2nd August 2011.

On the Dias with the Governor and Mrs Baradwaj and other Dignatries

Shaking hands with the Governor

Presenting a set of my books to Mrs Hans Raj Bhadwaraj while his Excellency, the Governor, Sri Hans Raj Bhadwaraj looks on

Mrs Bhadwaraj reads the Title of the Book
Wishing the Governor at another Function on the 2nd Aug 2012

Friday, February 8, 2013


 Apart from the regular domestic helpers at our home in KGF, there were several other indispensable people who were ‘compulsory appendages’ to our daily lives. ‘The Dhobi or laundry man’ was one such person.

The Laundryman or Dhobi would visit our home once a week in KGF to collect the dirty linen. Bath towels, Bed linen, curtains, kitchen cloths, and other heavy items were given to the Dhobi for washing and ironing, as these items being too heavy could not be washed at home. We had no Washing machines in those days. He would also collect the lighter clothes that were washed at home, and take it for ironing..

It was quite a procedure when the Dhobi came. There was a special dhobi’s account book. The Dhobi would spate each garment and make piles of them according to their nature. Each item of clothing was listed separately with the number of items written beside them. (For example:  Bed sheets – 8, Pants -5, Dresses -10, Towels- 6 etc.) We would take turns to write the Dhobi Book when he came.

After he had finished listing the dirty linen and making it into a huge bundle, the  dhobi would lay  out the  freshly washed and  ironed  clothes which he  had  taken the previous week and lay  them out neatly on a  clean bed spread  or carpet. Then the accounting would begin in reverse order. This ritual would be  repeated every week.

The charges varied for each item of clothing / linen and once a month, the dhobi’s account would be settled. He would get a lump sum payment for all the washing and ironing that he had done through out the month.

The Dhobi would mark a unique symbol or character on the garments / clothes belonging to a particular household. Every family’s clothes had a personal Identification Sign which the Dhobi would mark on the clothes given to him for washing. It would be marked in Black Indelible Ink and no amount of scrubbing would get it off.  Even though hundreds of clothes belonging to different people were washed and dried together at the dhobi Ghat, no one’s clothes would get mixed up due to the unique marking code that the dhobi had for each family!! Amazing.

Normally, the Dhobi would come on a cycle or carry the bundle of clothes on his head. However, if he had many households to visit on a particular day, he would bring his faithful donkey along to collect the dirty laundry from his customers. He would roll the dirty in a huge bundle with a bed sheet and tie it on the donkey’s back

The Garments were washed in the Dhobi Ghats where water was stored in huge Barrels and Drums. The dirty linen was stone washed and beaten with a heavy stick and many a time, buttons and bows would fly off into nowhere.  

Sometimes the linen needed to be bleached, so the garments and white sheets were immersed in huge vats of boiling water to which a generous amount of Bleaching Powder or ‘Dhobi’s Dust’ was added to give the linen the shining whiteness. However, many a time due to dis-proportinate  use of bleaching powder, many of his customers would suffer from skin irritation called ‘Dhobi’s Itch’ or ‘Jock itch’.

Similarly, huge vats of Indigo were also kept ready to soak the clothes to give it the final dazzle of whiteness. Thereafter all the garments were dried on many lines in the hot sun. The next day would be ironing day and all the washed clothes / linen would be neatly ironed with huge and heavy coal irons. The dhobi would then come again to every household and the process would be repeated.

The Dhobis were the forerunners on the Indian subcontinent to modern professional Dry Cleaners and mechanized laundries. Since the dhobi charges are much lower than those of dry cleaners, they are still popular with most households. We can now see Dhobis who specialize in Ironing at every street corner and they are in great demand every day.

Friday, February 1, 2013


During the early years of the John Taylor and Sons Company, the workers lived in Miners lines that were actually Tin shacks with little or no ventilation. They had no facilities and no access to clean potable drinking water, toilet facilities, etc. They just used the open fields to do their business.

The unhygienic living areas also added to the spread of epidemics. Malaria was rampant with the large scale breeding of mosquitoes in the swamps. The illiterate men placed their trust in native medicine men when they fell ill, who promised a quick cure for their ailments, as the medical facilities were not readily available.

A new social evil also took root with the brewing and sale of illicit County liquor or ‘Sarai’ by unscrupulous elements. The miners soon became victims of these vices. They needed to drown their sorrows and relax after their hard and frightening day’s work.

This illicit Country Brew was made by fermenting lots of stuff including old batteries, dirty and polluted water, spoilt fruit and vegetables, molasses, jaggery, malt, mentholated spirit, etc. Sometimes this illicit and spurious brew became a ‘Killer Brew’ and many men succumbed to the reactions brought on by consuming it.

Another social evil that surfaced were the innumerable mobile Gambling Joints. The families of the miners were the ones worst affected by this social curse as the meager earnings of the men were fritted away by gambling and drinking, leaving them to starve.